Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

when honestly deserved, from mere laziness or indifference. Every one must have observed that on the first night of a new piece, the applause is louder and more frequent than on the succeeding evenings, and many people incorrectly ascribe that to the author's friends. The real explanation of this is found in the fact of there being present a number of people who are themselves intimately connected with the stage-actors, authors, amateurs, and the outer fringe of the profession. These are capable of judging minutely whether an artist has done well or ill with the part, and neither laziness nor false modesty prevents their testifying their approval when it has been gained. A piece may be, too often is, rubbish from beginning to end, yet the house may ring with applause, caused by the excellence of some actor or actress's reading, or the creation of character in some apparently-trivial part. Plaudits under these circumstances, invariably come from those who understand the mysteries and niceties of dramatic art, and are worth untold quantities of the noisy approval that proceeds from a claptrapped gallery. That characteristic of a New York audience, to which exception may be most justly taken, arises from their love of dress. An actress's popularity too often arises from her ability to appear in expensive dresses, while merit is often invisible to their eyes when clothed in garments of a cheap material. This arose in a great measure from the freak of a celebrated actress, whose exceptional wealth enabled her to appear in almost regal garb, but her retirement from the stage failed to eradicate the evil she had introduced, and the spectacle of a poor girl arrayed in the glories of a standing-alone silk, is by no means an uncommon phenomenon. Time will mend this, but the critics have not yet made war on an order of things that calls to mind the early days of the drama, when Nell Gwyn and her associates were wont to frolic about the stage in the richest dresses they could get, regardless of the presumable garb of the characters they impersonated. "A beggar in satin" is an exaggerated term, used here when speaking of the dresses worn on a particular stage, but, like all such sayings, is founded on fact, and has about it a certain smack of truth.

Before leaving the theatres and their supporters to speak of artists and stage literature, it may be as well to mention one regulation here, which is sadly needed in London. Every playgoer must be familiar with the subtle art of the English boxkeepers, in obtaining fees for showing visitors to their places, but under the pretence of selling the play-bills. That one has purchased a numbered and reserved seat is but a partial

protection, and those who have not done so find it impossible to obtain the seats they want without tipping the boxkeeper. The Adelphi Theatre is the one bright example in London of a rule that "obtains" everywhere in New York. A number of copies of "The Stage," or "The Season," journals that correspond to the French "Entr'acte," and contain a bill of the play, is placed near the cheque gate, and each visitor taking one as he passes, proceeds to his appointed place, or in search of one that suits him, unaided and untroubled. Managers do not here join in the plunder and persecution of their patrons by leasing the passes of their dominions to a domestic banditti, and could any such system be inaugurated, its existence would be short-lived and inglorious, for were an American, who had purchased his ticket at the box office, to be called upon for a further payment for some nameless object, he would demand the reason why, in terms so emphatic, and manner so decided, that the attempted imposition would speedily be abandoned.

Common Sense.

THE world has wearied of its toys
In growing very wise and old,
It schools the little girls and boys
With grave experience manifold.
To prove to them beyond a doubt
That all the tricksy fairy rout,
The cunning dwarfs and giants glum
Who growl their dreadful Fee-Fo-Fum,
The busy gnomes in caverns dark,
The dryads in the haunted park,
Are moonshine silvering old time,
Unworthy of a moment's thought
Save in a Christmas pantomime

Of pasteboard and of tinsel wrought;
For what is more delectable,
Convenient and respectable,
And thoroughly perfectible

Than sober common sense?

[blocks in formation]

The London Police.

IN what respect does the Police of London differ from that of America? This is a question naturally asked by intelligent minds interested in the welfare of society, both among Englishmen and Americans. It would be more just to inquire how far the Police arrangements of New York and London resemble each other. That question, however, would not be sufficiently broad; because, while the Police of London gives a distinct character to all that department, in all the colonies of Great Britain, that of New York cannot fairly be taken as a criterion for all the nation of the United States.

In considering the Police of America, properly speaking, we are to survey all the principal cities, from Portland on the East to Chicago on the North; from San Francisco on the West to New Orleans on the South. In all these places there is a wide diversity of population, yet all governed by the same Republican laws. Taken as a whole, however, the aggregate returns enable us to strike a just balancesheet, and form a correct estimate as to the merits of the Police System of the United States. In all the New England States it is very nearly the same. In New York it has commingled with its administration, though not with its municipal laws, a large and powerful foreign element. In the more southern and western cities this is generally the case. The working of the system, therefore, is, to a considerable extent, controlled by the changes produced by emigration, and its effects on the more stable relations of society, are to be judged accordingly.

Underlying the whole framework of government in America is the foundation of general education among the people. This organic fact controls the administration of police law, and is felt in all the applications of direct and indirect force. It is very seldom that sufficient allowance is made for this fact in Europe. It is not perceived, as it should be, correctly to understand all the workings of American society, that the government is the people and the people are the government in the American Union. Hence every good citizen has a direct interest in a perfect Police System in America; and he will not rest satisfied, if he is true to his country, until he has made the necessary legal changes, by means of his suffrage, to secure it. Once

secured, and fairly tested by practice, such a system will always work harmoniously with the best interests of the Republic.

Every just American has a personal and patriotic concern in learning and making known the advantages and disadvantages of the Police System of London, the great metropolis of the world. That which to the Englishman may appear common-place, an every-day matter with which he is almost too familiar, becomes, by change of circumstances, of great value to the American, when applied to the well-being of America.

men.

The London Police comprises, in round numbers, ten thousand We speak of this aggregate as including the regular and irregular, the public and secret, the armed and unarmed. Of the whole body there are two divisions-the "City" and the "Metropolitan." Americans not familiar with London cannot readily understand this distinction, but experience will soon make them acquainted with it— they will be quick to discover that a man may live in London and yet never see "the City."

In London proper there is a Police Force under command, in 1867, of COLONEL FRASER. hundred secret policemen in this division.

of eight hundred men, There are at least two

The Metropolitan Force consists of seven thousand five hundred public and five hundred private officials. All these are in command of SIR RICHARD MAYNE, who acts in concert with COLONEL FRASER, and both officers are under the supreme control of the Home Secretary of the British Government.

The average age of a London policeman is thirty-five years. The average compensation, for the "City," is twenty-five shillings sterling per week; for the "Metropolis" it is twenty-two shillings. The reason for this difference of compensation between the two divisions is not given; but it is supposed to be owing either to the greater honour of belonging to the Old Corporation, or to the increased danger of duty in the more ancient thoroughfares, or to the higher prices paid by the City" officials for the necessaries of life.

66

The Metropolitan Police Force is changed once a month from day to night, or from night to day. Two-thirds of the entire body of this portion of the Force are ordered on duty for the day, and one-third for the night. The City Force does not make this change: the day man remains on his post during the day, and the night man during the night. One City policeman, whom we met inside of dear old Temple Bar-the haunt of GOLDSMITH, and JOHNSON, and SHAKESPEARE

« ZurückWeiter »